Tag Archives: Indian, Minnesota State Capitol, Native American

Wrestling with questions about Minnesota’s awful art

Father_Hennepin_at_the_Falls_of_St._Anthony

Father Hennepin at the Falls of St. Anthony – described by Scott Russell in The Circle: “The painting shows Father Hennepin at the falls, renaming it after his patron saint. The term “discovers” is wrong. Hennepin stands in a position of authority, towering over the people sitting below him, when in fact he was a Dakota prisoner at the time. At right, the painting shows a half-naked Dakota woman carrying a heavy pack. Her lack of covering is historically inaccurate and offensive, an apparent effort to show her as uncivilized.”

Last week’s blog post on offensive, racist, and historically inaccurate art in the Minnesota Capitol sparked an intense and informative discussion between Joline Gitis, who advocated keeping the art in place in order to “provide important opportunities to discuss painful chapters in Minnesota’s history–chapters that might otherwise be glossed over or ignored” and Scott Russell, who argues that the Capitol is a place where “art should inspire people, not make some feel excluded.” Both offered thoughtful, respectful arguments, in a dialogue that played out on Facebook. I found their dialogue thought-provoking and received their permission to share it here. Continue reading

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